When a right-wing pale male politician in Australia in 2016 called a senior female journo a “mad fucking witch”, there were some women who thought “well, that’s one thing you got right”. And they created a group with that very name (https://www.facebook.com/MadFckingWitches/). Double, double toil and trouble, is exactly what they intend to bring down upon those who uphold misogynistic, racist, colonial, and patriarchal systems and behaviours. There is plenty of work ahead of them.
Historically, witches had a bad rap. They were often just herbalists and mid-wives, but sometimes they were truly awful women who refused men’s advances, as well. Women have always been easy targets for whatever pet-peeve the male group of humans decided to have against them. The peeves are often buoyed up by other women, too, for complex social reasons to do with staying onside with the power group. Women who didn’t toe the mainstream line, like being independent and – gasp – having knowledge, were easy to gang up against. If they weren’t on the outer already, it was a simple matter to make them so. Other groups had their problems, too, but of those groups, the women in them always copped a worse deal than the men. And so it has always been – but these ‘Mad Fucking Witches’ are now powering witches up again.
Of course, the right-wing pale male politician who sent the text didn’t actually mean to send it to the senior female journo – he meant to send it to a fellow boy-politician that the senior female journo called out for inappropriate behaviour. Not that their names were remotely similar, but you know, politicians have a lot on their minds – like helping their buddies out of a sticky situation of their dick’s making. The obligatory slap on the wrist ensued – and a group got born that’s as mad as hell.
Fast forward 3.5 years to the 15th August 2019, when an Australian right-wing stale pale male radio talk-back host called Alan Jones had a vicious rant against the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. He took umbrage at her reply to a question about how Australia’s massive use of coal to generate power will affect Pacific nations in regards to climate change. Jacinda Ardern replied that Australia will have to answer to the Pacific nations on that one. Quite a reasonable response, really. Of course, she could have just gone down the usual diplomatic path and said that that wasn’t for her to comment on, but she took it a tiny bit further this time – and Jones exploded with fury.
Jones is a shock jock. It’s his job to explode with fury and make vicious rants. He usually saves his worst vileness for women, though, including a previous female Prime Minister of Australia. Female Prime Ministers obviously push his buttons. He’s popular amongst all the usual small-minded suspects who have a small world-view, and makes big money for himself, and big ratings for the radio station. Big ratings equal big advertising dollars. He is 78 years old and has been a horrible man for most of those years, according to various reports, which includes the apparent grooming of a teenage boy. What comes to light, of course, is only ever the tip of the iceberg.
Anyway, so incensed was he with Jacinda Ardern’s response to the question about Australia’s role in the Pacific in regards to climate change, that he invoked physical violence against her. He wondered out loud on air whether Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, should give her a “few back-handers” and “shove a sock down her throat”. Can’t imagine him saying those things about a male Prime Minister, somehow. Scott Morrison declared that Jones was “way out of line”, because Scott has two daughters himself. I’m a bit curious about what his response would have been if he didn’t have daughters?
The right-wing stale pale male radio shock jock later said that he didn’t really mean to say those things, just got his words a bit mixed up – and eventually sent an apology to Jacinda Ardern. Read that as was forced to send an apology, because the day immediately after the comments, he sure as hell wasn’t apologising for them then. Thanks to pressure from various groups, notably the ‘Mad Fucking Witches’, advertisers began pulling their money out. If there’s one thing that hurts a radio show, it’s not nasty, vile stuff being said by the male host (a female couldn’t get away with it nearly so much), it is advertisers pulling their money out. Hence, the apology.
Who know what will happen from here with Jones. Traditionally, not much. Business rainmakers usually get given a very, very, long leash. Plus, he’s 78 years old – what’s he going to care? He’s got so much experience at being an arsehole under his belt, he’ll just find another way, either in business or at play. But the ‘Mad Fucking Witches’ brought him to heel this time. All hail to them!